Remember at the end of Season 2 — in the penultimate episode, “Operation Chronicle,” to be specific — when Martha said to Clark, “I even love your toupee,” and “Clark” just kind of sheepishly laughed? Remember how sweet and relieving that moment was? Remember how much love was in that moment, not only from Martha but also from Philip, who at the very least felt affection for Martha because she’d seen through his disguise just enough to notice the “toupee”?
Exactly one year later, oh how the tables have turned. Philip revealing his true self to Martha after she threatened to leave him shows just how attached he’s become to his second wife. Sure, he could still kill her and eliminate the problem, but the revelation seems like a whole lot of trouble for him to take it all back next week. Will he have to? Maybe, but I’ll take the points if most people are betting on Martha’s demise next week.
In other news…so this Abassin Zadran fellow, huh? He’s got quite the temper. After an emphasized wire-tap, it didn’t take much from Philip and Elizabeth to make Abassin kill his two colleagues. The good news? He’s the only one left to convince America to give his people weapons to fight the USSR, and he didn’t look like the most reliable, trustworthy representative of his people while standing in the blood-soaked hotel room. The bad news? This dude is dangerous. If he finds out who Philip and Elizabeth are — or even suspects them — they’re in some trouble.
Elizabeth’s Loyalty: USA
The importance of Elizabeth asking Paige to go with her back to Russia cannot be understated, even if the episode’s framing of the question made it seem unimportant. When Philip first brought up the idea with Elizabeth, his passion and caring were as memorable as his words, but the mission still took precedent. When Elizabeth asked the question, we quickly cut to Martha waiting for Clark with a packed suitcase. Though it may seem dismissive, the framework of the question actually makes it even more beautiful.
Lest we forget, Elizabeth wasn’t going to go at all until this episode. Only Philip was pushing her to see her mother one last time, proving he knows his wife better than she knows herself. Now, she’s committed herself and Paige to the dangerous excursion. Why? Both parents have the same focus: keep Paige close. They need their daughter on their team, and if there’s a chance taking her to their homeland will help her better understand their decisions thus far, it’s worth the risk. The Centre would probably disagree, which makes Elizabeth’s family values all the more American.
Philip’s Loyalty: USA
Remember Kimberly, the young woman Philip has been charged with seducing in order to retrieve the recordings from her CIA-employed father’s briefcase? Remember how icky that relationship is to watch? Remember how close Philip has come to actually crossing the line? Even though we haven’t heard from the troubled young lady of late, odds are she’ll reemerge — likely in next week’s finale. Between the recording device planted in her dad’s suitcase, the bug in the FBI mail robot and the inquiry regarding Agent Gaad’s pen, it’s hard to keep all the Russian intel sorted (I was guilty in an earlier post). Philip, though, is running all of these. How many is he comfortable with carrying out? None. The mail robot is the closest to clean intel he’s got, and even that came at a cost for Elizabeth. Now he’s showing his true face to Martha? Dollars to rubles say he won’t go as far as needed with Kimberly, as Philip starts to side with his assets over the mission.
Stan: Savant or Square?
Stan is on top of his freaking game right now! He told off Agent Aderholt for suspecting him of treason — reminding us he hasn’t forgotten about “the woman” who survived his gunshots, beat up two federal agents and killed his former partner (though we know that was Philip) — and that was after he went over to Martha’s to check up on her/interrogate her about the pen mic. He’s hot on the heels of his enemies, even if he’s got bupkis for evidence against them or even that he’s on the right track. “Our office is a target of the illegals — the best, most dangerous officers the KGB has. Now they got to somebody inside, and it wasn’t me. Work on that.” Whether Aderholt helps Stan or tries to charge him for spying, I’m betting Stan is going to have one helluva finale next week.
Best Asset: Martha
As if there was ever any doubt. Martha, after taking the title by default last week, earned it and then some in Episode 12. Though Lisa certainly did her part by snapping photos of the bomber with her camera-enabled purse (for the scientist, which will hopefully help Nina!), how could we ever deny such honest human emotion from Martha? Watching her call her parents, holding back tears as she talked about her life, was one of the most heartbreaking scenes of the series. Her loyalty to Clark was finally severed, and Philip’s reaction proved how valuable Martha is to him. Anyone else would be dead by now (as Elizabeth suggested). Instead, Philip showed his true colors to Martha for the first time. Next week, we’ll find out if it’s enough to save her, him and them.
Wig Count: 4
New wigs! Repeat: new wigs spotted on “The Americans”! Both Elizabeth and Philip sported some solid — literally, for Liz — new blonde locks to kick off the episode, and later brought back two standbys to round out a decent episode for hairdos.
Quote of the Night:
Welcome back, Claudia! You’re still the villain. After being vanquished for her unfair treatment of Philip and Elizabeth last season (and for actor Margo Martindale to shoot the now-dead CBS sitcom “The Millers”), Claudia came back late in Season 3 to keep Gabriel — who turns out to be just as big a softie as he appears — on the right track. It turns out Philip isn’t the only KGB agent doubting the Centre’s plan for Paige. Gabriel isn’t sure about it either, recalling the cataclysmic climax of Season 2 when we discovered “it was the boy who killed his family.”
But Claudia ain’t budgin’. Even after relaying to Gabriel how grief-stricken the Russians were back home, she still told him to keep pushing Paige toward the program. “And yet, with all that, they still want to try again,” Gabriel said. “They think you can do it,” Claudia replied. If he can, it may break Philip’s heart, if not Elizabeth’s as well. But if he can’t, are they dead anyway? It’s quite the balancing act for this now-proven hand and watching him juggle should be loads of trepidatious fun.